Hope For Normalcy
With a view of Midtown Manhattan across the East River, the family of Bela Zeldovich, closest to the balloons, celebrates her sixth birthday at Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens, May 24, 2020. Memorial Day weekend in New York City usually marks the beginning of a vibrant summer to come, but this year traditions have been altered under the shadow of the coronavirus. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times)

As the Omicron surge appears to slow down in India and much of the world, there seems to be some hope to return to normalcy. Several countries in Europe have already started to drop pandemic restrictions and make provisions to open up. But experts warn another variant more lethal than the previous strains, may be on the rise and alert nations not to give up their guard.

More than 10.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, including over 1.2 billion boosters or additional doses. This week also saw India begin the return to normalcy as India’s schools and universities open up and several travel restrictions removed. Beside these issues facing the country, India’s assembly elections in five states are at full swing.

Meanwhile in China, several countries’ diplomatic Corps led by US, UK and Canada, were missing at the Beijing Winter Olympics held this year.These include India, Australia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia, and other nations in protest to Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang against the minority Muslim population. More than half of the countries that were absent at the Winter Olympics are from Africa.

A major diplomatic fallout this week was by the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong’s statement that more than half of India’s Ministers have criminal records, including murder and rape, which has created a storm in India, with the High Commissioner of Singapore to India, Simon Wong being summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs. The Singapore PM had invoked Jawaharlal Nehru while highlighting how democracy should work in the city-state during a debate in their parliament.

“Things started off with passionate intensity. Stating that the leaders, who fought for and won independence, are often exceptional individuals of great courage, immense culture, and outstanding ability. They came through the crucible of fire and emerged as leaders of men and nations. They are the David Ben-Gurions, the Jawaharlal Nehrus, and we have our own too,” he said. “While Nehru’s India has become one where, according to media reports, almost half the MPs in the Lok Sabha have criminal charges pending against them, including charges of rape and murder. Though it is also said that many of these allegations are politically motivated,” Lee said during the debate.

Reacting to the speech and mention of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress Party in India said while the country’s first premier continues to inspire world leaders even today, PM Narendra Modi denigrates him inside and outside of Parliament. May be the Singapore PM should first study their own history of pirates looting ships crossing Singapore Straits before making such comments.

While every country has good and bad people in all works of life, India too is going through several hardships fighting corruption and terrorism across the border. We as Indians are very proud that Singapore has become a developed country with regards to human development. Thousands of Indians living in Singapore, including in your parliament, may have contributed to this progress. India today is also trying to do the same.

At the European front, things are heating up as Russia refuses to withdraw the forces from Ukraine’s border. Let’s hope for the best.